Women Empowerment: Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg
Named one of the most powerful women in business by Forbes, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine, Facebook’s COO and author of the New York Times bestseller Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Sheryl Sandberg radiates women empowerment!
Born in DC and raised by a line of strong women in North Miami Beach, FL, Sandberg was destined for greatness from a young age. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard she went on to receive an MBA from Harvard’s Business School where she graduated with the highest distinction in 1995. She spent her first year after graduating as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company, a job she left to work for her former professor and mentor Larry Summers who was then serving as the US Secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton. When the Republicans won the Presidency in 2000, Sandberg left politics behind and moved to Silicon Valley where she joined Google as their Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations.
Then destiny stepped in and at a Christmas party in 2007 Sandberg met co-founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg who despite having no formal search in place for a COO thought Sandberg was “a perfect fit” for the role. Sandberg left Google and joined Facebook in 2008 where she quickly began to try to figure out how to make the company, which at the time was “primarily interested in building a really cool site; profits, they assumed, would follow”, profitable while keeping its users happy; a goal she succeeded in reaching by 2010 through a focus on advertising revenue. Now there is a resume, but wait it goes on!
In December 2010, Sandberg gave a TED speech titled “Why we have too few women leaders” where she examined why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions and offered powerful advice to women aiming to reach the C-suite. As a female executive in the male dominated tech world Sandberg witnessed firsthand the gender inequality gap leading her to begin a quest to empower women to reach for their goals and for both sexes to work toward a more equitable society.
“A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes.” This quote from Sandberg’s first book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, co-authored by Nell Scovell and released in the Spring of 2013, describes her vision for gender equality. In Lean In, Sandberg examines the barriers that keep women from reaching leadership roles and provides advice to help women achieve their career goals and for men who want to contribute to a more equitable society. She encourages women to “lean in” to positions of leadership because she believes that the more female voices there are in positions of power the more equitable opportunities will be created for everyone.
The success of Lean In and Sandberg’s drive to empower women led to her founding of the Lean In Foundation. The foundation, which is now under the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation umbrella, strives to “empower all women to achieve their ambitions” and change the way we think about gender through small peer groups called Lean In Circles, public awareness campaigns like #leanintogether (a 2016 campaign to encourage women to be mentors and powerful allies for other women at work) and a collection of photographs in collaboration with Getty Images depicting women as leaders and men as caregivers, annual studies on the state of Women in the Workplace and a growing library of educational videos, guides and tips for women and their male allies.
Sandberg’s husband Dave Goldberg, former executive at Yahoo and later CEO of SurveyMonkey, was a huge proponent of Sandberg’s mission to encourage gender equality in business and at home and the two frequently discussed being in a shared earnings/shared parenting marriage (they have a son and daughter). In 2015, Goldberg died unexpectedly while the couple was celebrating a friend’s birthday at a resort in Mexico. He went to the gym, had a cardiac arrhythmia, and she found him on the floor dead. Just like that her life was turned upside down and she felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound and Sandberg’s second book Option B was conceived.
Released in April of 2017, Option B combines Sandberg’s personal insights with Grant’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. The book provides stories, research and practical advice to help you, your family and community build strength for life’s challenges.
“I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice,” Sandberg wrote in a beautiful Facebook post in June 2015, shortly after her husband’s sudden death. “You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning.”
Again, Sandberg’s book spawned a web counterpart, OptionB.Org, an online resource and community dedicated to helping build resilience in the face of adversity through shared stories, solidarity and support groups and information from experts.
Words of Wisdom by Sheryl Sandberg:
“We call our little girls ‘bossy.’ We don’t call little boys ‘bossy,’ because we expect them to lead. We should look at our daughters and say, ‘You’re not bossy, you have executive leadership skills and I’m going to support and encourage that'” Said while explaining her 2014 Ban Bossy campaign, a television and social media censorship advocacy campaign designed to ban the word bossy from general use due to its perceived harmful effect on young girls.
“Done is better than perfect.”
“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” (Harvard Business School definition of leadership)”
“Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential.”
Thank you, Sheryl Sandberg, for all that you do for women empowerment! Oh yes, and for Facebook!
With love, KOKET
Looking for more words of wisdom from empowering women? Check out the rest of our profiles on our Women Empowerment page!